Why You Should Let Your Kids Snack
I am a big believer in snacking. It all started when I was pregnant with my little girl. I’ve continued to keep up that eating style and found it really works for both of my kiddos. Less mood swings and tantrums equals a happier family overall and it helps me get them to eat more food groups over the course of the day.
But I know that not everyone is as mad about snacking as I am. Some people think that it takes away from eating balanced meals and adds a lot of uncounted calories to a diet. True, if you let your kid eat right before lunch or dinner then you might run into that problem, especially if they eat a lot. But you can control that by having snacks an hour or two after meals so that they don’t run into the next one. You should also limit snacks to 100-200 calories and make sure that they have protein and fiber in them. That will help your kids feel full with less food and will keep them feeling satisfied longer.
I recently read an article by Dr. Bill Sears about why snacking is so great for your kids. I actually read some new stuff that I hadn’t considered before and it helped me think about why this is so important for your family. So here’s some reasons why snacking is so good for kids.
Stomach size: Kids tummies are the size of their fists. Thus, getting all their calories (and food groups) from three large meals just isn’t possible with that small of a space to pack food into. Snacking makes it so that they meet their caloric and nutritional needs.
Snacking helps with concentration: Snacking promotes steady blood sugar levels, which in turn means that the brain is fed a steady supply of food. That results in better concentration on learning tasks and less moodiness due to low blood sugar.
Snacking promotes a healthy gut: When large meals are ingested, a portion of that food stays relatively undigested in the gut. End result: indigestion and potentially constipation. Talk about an unhappy kid…
Snacking actually promotes healthier body frames: Steady eating results in stable insulin levels. Insulin signals the body to store energy reserves (i.e. sugars and fats), so when insulin levels are high, like after gorging on a big meals, more sugars and fats get stored in the body. So keeping insulin levels steady means that less reserves will be stored.
So the next time you’re going out or just hanging out around the house, don’t forget the snacks. It’s good for your kids and will make you a happier parent.
Jill runs Healthy Kiddo Snacks, a blog that promotes healthy, natural snacks for kids. She is also a researcher at the University of Arizona, specifically studying the effects of obesity on various bodily systems, and teaches biology classes for the local community college. She has two delightful kiddos, a one year old boy and a four year old girl, that make life fun. She lives in Tucson with her wonderful husband and kids, and loves yoga and cooking with her family.